Sonni Dynasty

Sonni Dynasty

The Sonni Dynasty were the rulers of the Songhai Empire of Medieval West Africa. They continued to rule the state until their usurpation by the Askiya Dynasty. Sonni, also spelt Sunni, is a Songhai word meaning "replacement or liberator king." It is associated with the Sonni Dynasty of the Songhai Empire, which began at the end of the thirteenth.

The Sonni Dynasty ruled the growing Songhai Empire until it was usurped by the Askiya Dynasty.


According to Stride and Ifeka's Peoples and Empires of West Africa, the Kingdom of Gao fell under the indirect control of the Mali Empire during the reign of Sundiata. In around 1275, an official of Mali fled to Gao and established his own dynasty. The kings of this dynasty were called Sonni or Sunni meaning "replacement" or "liberator" kings.


The Kingdom of Gao under the Sonni dynasty had to be continuously attacked to keep it paying tribute to the Mali Empire. The first instance of this occurs under Mansa Sakura and later by General Sagmandir under Mansa Musa. In 1375, the Mali Empire lost complete control of Songhai and the empire was born. By 1420, Songhai was strong enough to exact tribute from Masina.


In 1493, the "replacement" kings were themselves replaced by an ambitious general named Muhammad Ture. After a fierce and bloody battle, Ture was able to seize power and put his own dynasty on the throne of the Songhai Empire.

Sonni Dynasty Rulers

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